On the day that only comes around once every four years, we look back at the last leap day in 2020 and what was in the news at the time in Brecon & Radnorshire.

Fay Jones outside The Royal Welsh Regimental Museum in February 2021.
Fay Jones outside The Royal Welsh Regimental Museum in February 2021. (Fay Jones.)

Back in late February of 2020, Fay Jones held a parliamentary debate on Wales’ contribution to the UK armed forces where concerns were raised over the intended closure of the Brecon Barracks, which were announced in November 2016.

Calls were made for one of the Army’s three historic Welsh regiments to be based in Wales during the debate.

Jeremy Quin, the Ministry of Defence minister acknowledged Brecon’s importance as the home of the Army in Wales with the 160 Brigade being based at the barracks.

Brecon and Radnorshire MP Fay Jones suggested that the Queen’s Dragoon Guards, also known as the Welsh Cavalry should return home and following the debate, Ms Jones said she believed Brecon would be the ideal home for the Queen’s Dragoon Guards.

It was later announced that the Queen’s Dragoon Guards, who are currently based in Norfolk, but will move to a revamped Caerwent Barracks near Newport in 2028.

During the debate MPs from across the Welsh political divide, and a Scottish nationalist MP, raised concerns over the planned closure of the Brecon Barracks in 2027, at the time.

The government had previously said the 160 Brigade, the Army in Wales based at the barracks would remain head-quartered somewhere in Wales once the Brecon base was closed.

However, in November 2021 plans to close the barracks were scrapped. UK defence secretary at the time, Ben Wallace told the House of Commons on Thursday, 25 November that “after careful consideration” the Ministry of Defence planned to retain the site in the garrison town.

See the full article here.

The entrance to Christ College - photo from Google Street View

Also in the news at the time of last leap day was the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic. Pupils who boarded at Christ College Brecon were urged not to return home to areas considered at high risk of Coronavirus.

At the time the independent school had pupils from all across the world, including China.

They asked all pupils with home addresses outside of the UK to stay with host families over the Easter break.

A pupil who decided not to follow the school’s advice, returned to Hong Kong, an area that was not considered as a high risk at the time but close enough to cause concern. The pupil was quarantined for 14 days and didn’t return to the school until this period concluded.

The school said it was praised by PHW when a pupil with a high temperature returned after February half term from a country not first seen as high risk, but was then considered to be later on.

Also in the news, a couple of days before leap day on February 26, a giant hole had been discovered in a bridge in the Brecon Beacons.

The hole was believed to be the damage dealt by Storm Dennis. It was discovered in Forest Lodge area at the bottom of Cwm Du by Brecon Mountain Rescue Team members.

Giant hole in bridge
(Brecon Mountain Rescue Team)

The bridge, which crosses a stream at the bottom of Cwm Du, near Forest Lodge was impassable due to the large chunk taken out of it.

Area warden for Brecon Beacons National Park, Jon Pimm said:“Another bridge damaged by Storm Dennis meaning that this section of Sarn Helen is closed.”

And a spokesperson for Brecon Mountain Rescue Team said: “Anyone out walking or on their mountain bike in the Sarn Helen / Forest Lodge area please take care around bridge collapse at bottom of Cwm Du.”

Link to full story here.

In Sport on Saturday, 29 February 2020, Brecon RFC didn’t enjoy leap day as they were beaten by title rivals Newbridge RFC who put in a dominant second half display.

(B&R Express)

After a tight first half Brecon found themselves in a losing position by eight points, but a further three tries secured a 27-10 victory for Newbridge, extending their lead at the top of the table to 16 points.

The match was played at The Wern in Merthyr Tydfil due to flooding caused by bad weather.

In other Sport news, Gwernyfed ladies rugby team travelled to Pontypridd to take on Llantwit Fardre in the first round of the WRU Plate and secured their place in the next round of the cup.

Gwernyfed Ladies RFC 2020
Captain for Gwernyfed ladies RFC Bronnie James escaping a tackle. (Bryn Priddle.)

Winger, Isla Burrough beat three defenders to score a try in the corner on her debut for Gwernyfed, giving the team the momentum needed to win the game 24-13. Gwernyfed then travelled to Morriston RFC, Swansea the following week.